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Paintings > Folk Art > Patachitra > Vishnu Offering His Eye in Place of the Missing Lotus
(Illustration to the Shiva Purana)
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Vishnu Offering His Eye in Place of the Missing Lotus<br>(Illustration to the Shiva Purana)

Vishnu Offering His Eye in Place of the Missing Lotus
(Illustration to the Shiva Purana)

Vishnu Offering His Eye in Place of the Missing Lotus
(Illustration to the Shiva Purana)

(Rated 5.0)
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Water Color Painting on Patti Paper
Folk Art From The Temple Town Puri (Orissa)
Artist:: Rabi Behera

12 inches X 18 inches
Item Code:
PM77
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$155.00   Shipping Free - 4 to 6 days
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This painting, a pata-chitra rendered by blending the folk styles of Orissa, its palette, iconography and the style of embellishing the canvas, especially the border, and Bengal, especially its power to reveal its narrative, represents one of the lesser known legends in the Shiva Maha Purana. It relates to Vishnu's acquiring the famed Sudarshana-chakra - disc, contrary to what the common mind believes, from Shiva by his rigorous penance and unique sacrifice made in its course. The legend appears in Chapter 34 in Chaturtha Koti Rudra Samhita. The painting represents Shiva towards the upper side of the canvas with the Sudarshana-chakra in his hand, Vishnu offering his eye to Shiva-linga and a mass of lotuses strewn around the deity.

As the text has it, once gods, unable to confront some mighty demons who ousted them from Heaven and stripped them of all their powers and possessions, approached Vishnu for rescuing them from the clutches of their foes and regain their lost abode and belongings. Vishnu consoled them but also expressed his fear that he might not eliminate them as they were great warriors and exceptionally powerful. He however assured them that he would seek Shiva's blessings and with his help would surely destroy them. This revived their confidence and well assured they returned. For fulfilling gods' errand Vishnu meditated on Shiva and began thinking how to please him. Considering penance to be its most potential instrument he retired to the Himalayas and close to the Mount Kailash, Shiva's abode, made a fire-place, installed fire in it, collected fresh lotuses from the nearby Mansarovara lake, adorned with them the yajna premises, and seated by it began doing rigorous penance.

He started with ritual worship by making offerings to the Agni, reciting sacred syllables and hymns hailing Lord Shiva and praying him for his favour. This, however, did not please Shiva. Vishnu thought of other ways. He then indulged in every mode of penance but this too did not yield result. Suddenly in his mind occurred Shiva's Sahastra-nama-japa - recitation of Shiva's one thousand name-hymns. He collected one thousand lotuses with the vow to offer one lotus each time the nama-mantra - name-hymn, completed, and after so deciding resorted to the japa-rite. To test his commitment Shiva secretly removed one of his lotuses. Hence, when Vishnu completed the last hymn and with closed eyes directed his hand to pick up the last lotus, it was not found. He opened his eyes but only to find it missing. With no part of the world beyond him, Vishnu searched every inch of its space but with failure. He remembered suddenly that in hymns hailing him he was admired as 'lotus-eyed' and hence he could offer one of his eyes in place of the missing lotus. With this he removed one of his eyes and accomplished his vow by offering it. Finally, convinced with the genuineness of Vishnu's devotion Shiva appeared and gave him the Sudarshana-chakra, the weapon never to fail in achieving its target, and blessed him to succeed against gods' foes.

This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of books.


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